Wednesday December 12, 2007
By LEE YUK PENG, FLORENCE A. SAMY
KUALA LUMPUR: Police arrested 29 people – including Bersih members and Parti Keadilan Rakyat and PAS leaders – at Parliament yesterday when they showed up to submit a memorandum to protest against the Constitution (Amendment) Bill to extend Election Commission members’ retirement age from 65 to 66.
Federal CID Deputy Director I Acryl Sani said they were arrested for going against a court order prohibiting them from “taking part in the illegal gathering, refusing to disperse and obstructing the police.”
“Seventeen were released on police bail and they have to report to the police next Tuesday,” said DCP Acryl, adding that the rest were released unconditionally.
Twenty were stopped and arrested at the main gate of the Parliament House compound in the morning.
They included PKR information chief Tian Chua, PKR secretary-general Datuk Khalid Ibrahim, PAS treasurer Dr Hatta Ramli, committee member Dr Lo’Lo Ghazali, Parti Socialist Malaysia Pro-tem chairman Dr Nashi Hashim and secretary-general S. Arutchelva.
In the afternoon, several members of Bersih (Coalition for Clean and Fair Elections) handed over the memorandum titled Say No to the “Save Rashid” Amendment of the Constitution to PKR president Datin Seri Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail, Teresa Kok from DAP and Datuk Kamaruddin Jaafar from PAS at the Parliament lobby.
The Dewan Rakyat passed the Bill with more than two-thirds majority, minus the participation of Opposition MPs who staged a walkout.
Suaram executive director Yap Swee Seng, who led the Bersih group, read out the memorandum before handing it to the Opposition MPs.
Yap, Wong Chun Huat from Writers Alliance for Media Independence, Mein Lor from Pusat Komunikasi Masyarakat and Centre of Independence Journalist executive director V. Gayathry were arrested outside Parliament’s VIP entrance about 1.30pm after handing over the memorandum.
Former Dungun MP Datuk Mustafa Ali, who visited the Parliament house as a guest of Tumpat MP Datuk Kamaruddin Jaafar and was also present at the handing-over, was arrested about 2pm after some resistance.
The four named in the restraining order issued by the magistrate’s court are PAS centre committee member Dr Syed Azman Ahmad Nawawi, PAS vice president Mohamad Sabu, MTUC president Syed Shahir Syed Mohamud and Adnan Said.
Federal Reserve Unit police personnel were stationed along the roads leading to Parliament House and several roadblocks were also set up on all roads leading to Parliament House and the city centre.
About 11.30am, police ordered the crowd of about 200 to disperse.
They then moved to Jalan Tangsi and later proceeded to the city police headquarters in Jalan Hang Tuah where they held placards and protested the “unlawful” arrests.
The gathering broke up at about 4.45pm.
Politicians and activists held